Haas planning driver announcement ahead of U.S. GP

SOCHI, Russia — Haas expects to have its 2019 line-up confirmed in time for the U.S. Grand Prix in October.

The American team has two of the remaining available seats left for next season but has remained tight-lipped about its plans all year. Kevin Magnussen is expected to be re-signed, given his strong form ahead of the summer break, while early doubts about Romain Grosjean’s future appear to have been put to rest in recent weeks.

While Magnussen excelled in the early part of the season, Grosjean struggled. However, his form has improved at a crucial point in the year — after finishing fourth at June’s Austrian Grand Prix, his first points of the season, he has out-scored Magnussen on Sundays.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner refused to give any clues about the decision, but said he had noticed Grosjean’s recent improvements.

“Since he found the key, as he says, and he didn’t lose it again, I think he’s performing pretty well,” he said. “He’s back to what he was before, before he had that dip in performance at the beginning of the season.

“I think as I said, he was here from the beginning. He did take a risk for his career to come to us, because he didn’t know us, but I think our relationship is very good. Whatever happens, I think our personal relationship will stay intact, whatever happens, because we are having a good time.

“If you think about it, we are in our third year and we’re fighting for fourth position. What more can you expect? Whatever happens in the future, the relationship will stay positive. There will be no fights.”

Haas was linked to Ferrari’s two junior drivers, Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi, but both have found other seats for 2019. Leclerc is making the step up from Sauber to Ferrari next season, while Giovinazzi will replace him at the Swiss team as Kimi Raikkonen’s teammate next season. Options beyond that appear to be slim, with the team reluctant to take a chance on drivers currently affiliated with rival teams of engine supplier Ferrari, such as Mercedes-backed Esteban Ocon.